Fagernes is a small town located in the Innlandet County, 3 hours drive northwest of Oslo. It has had its own chess festival for almost 10 years.
Norway was a country we really wanted to visit during our Chess Journey. This is now done thanks to the “Fagernes International Autumn 2022” in which we played from 9 to 16 October.
The tournament took place in the Scandic Valdres hotel overlooking the Strandefjorden lake. The venue was perfectly sized to host the 115 participants.
The quality of the chess boards is to be noted, moreover, all the games of the two tournaments were broadcasted on chess24 and lichess. The chess fans were therefore able to follow their favourites live.
Regarding the accommodation, the organiser negotiated a full board offer with the hotel. Players who wished to do so were able to benefit from a preferential rate by staying on site. The formula was interesting considering the quality of the service and the usual prices in Norway! However, as for our tournament in Denmark, it was still beyond our budget and we therefore opted for a bungalow at the local camping.
Fagernes International Autumn is the second tournament in Fagernes this year. The first took place in spring.
There were two tournaments, one open to all, and a GM tournament open to players over 2000 elo points (or 1900 if female). The time control was 1h40 plus 40min after 40 moves with an increment of 30s per move. We played 9 rounds over 8 days.
This autumn edition gathered 115 players, 60 in the GM group and 55 in the open. Unfortunately, the number of players was below the expectations of the organisation with 10 last minute cancellations. This created a small deficit in the tournament budget and some of the DGT boards rented for the broadcasting were not used.
Nevertheless, the tournament was very strong including 11 GMs and 11 IMs with Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu (IND, 17), Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan (IND, 24) and Anton Demchenko (RUS, 35) in the top three.
It is worth noting that once again the Indian delegation was very strong with a young prodigy at its head! Speaking of youth, each of us only played one opponent over 30 years old!
For each of the rounds the organiser, Hans Olav Lahlum, wrote a bulletin. These bulletins, illustrated with pictures of the players, contain analyses of the GM group games and some of the open games. Well done to him for overcoming this challenge requiring writing skills, chess analysis skills and good time management!
The tournament was very competitive and 3 players finished in first place with 7/9. The winner of the GM group was Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan followed by Abhimanyu Puranik (IND) and Anton Demchenko.
“Even though chess is not a game of chance, I feel that I was unlucky during this tournament. Indeed, on two occasions, against higher ranked opponents, I had the possibility to draw and I missed it by a little. On the other hand, against lower-ranked opponents, I conceded two draws that should have been wins. So I had a fairly average tournament even though I fulfilled my number one goal which is to avoid losses against lower ranked opponents.”
Conclusion on this tournament
We have played several tournaments located in idyllic settings: the Mediterranean with Imperia and Menorca, or the Alps. Among these tournaments, Fagernes is in a very good position, perhaps in the lead! The walk to the playing venue went along a lake with Norwegian forests in the background showing their autumn colours… We couldn’t help stopping every 50 meters to take pictures of the beautiful landscape.
The tournament was very well organised, we wrote to the organiser before comming and were happy with his responsiveness. We didn’t participate in the side events as we wanted to enjoy the city but they looked like a lot of fun. In particular the “teamtalkingchess” which is a tournament where each team (4 people) plays on 6 chessboards at the same time. Players are allowed to speak out loud and exchange places.
If Fagernes wasn’t so far from France we would come back every year!
This anecdote is not really about the tournament but rather about our journey to Norway. We had decided to travel by train, thanks to the interrail pass, with stops in Germany and Sweden to visit. Unfortunately our trip between Göteborg (Sweden) and Oslo (Norway) did not go as planned.
Indeed, due to a technical problem the train stopped in a small Swedish town called “Ed” and we were told that buses would take us to another station where we could take another train to finish the trip.
However, there was only one bus waiting, which was not enough, and we could not get on. The driver left and told us that there would “maybe be another bus in two hours”. So we found ourselves in the cold in a tiny Swedish town in front of a pub called the “Local Idiot”, not knowing how we were going to reach our destination !
Fortunately, some friendly Norwegian travellers took pity on us and, in addition to translating all the announcements, one of them ordered a taxi which we enjoyed for free. In the end, we met some very nice people on this trip!
What we liked
What we liked less
On our way to play this tournament, we stopped for two nights in Oslo, the capital of Norway, located at the bottom of its beautiful 17km long fjord*. We were very amused to discover the decoration of the youth hostel we had chosen by chance!
A very short time in Oslo did not allow us to take advantage of all the charms of this city but we really enjoyed wandering in its calm streets.
From the Frognerparken with its hundreds of statues, to the opera house, the harbour and the Akershus citadel overlooking the fjord, everything is worth seeing!
Fun fact: it is possible to access the roof of the Oslo Opera House via an outside ramp, which provides a nice view of the fjord* and the city.
Below are a few more photos from our stay in Oslo:
Fagernes is a town in the county of Innlandet, 187 km northwest of Oslo. On the way, we can already admire the beautiful landscapes of the Norwegian countryside, each of which can compete for the title of the most beautiful postcard. Lakes, rivers and small wooded mountains delight our eyes while autumn embellishes everything with its yellow and red shades!
Fagernes is built on the shore of Strandefjorden (which is a lake and not a fjord*…), with a backdrop of mountains, it offers magnificent hikes and viewpoints!
Don’t be fooled by Fagernes’ low altitude of 360m, as the harshness of the Norwegian winter makes it a Nordic ski resort. In winter the lake freezes over completely and tracks are made to allow skiers to cross more easily, while an ice rink is set up in the centre of Fagernes. Snowshoeing routes on the hills offer great views of the town and the Strandefjorden. For us, in autumn, these routes were hiking trails, some of which you can see below.
Soon, back to France, in Nancy, where we will play the 20th International Chess Festival of Meurthe et Moselle in rapid and blitz.